“Is Delhi Only India?” 17-Year-Old Tripura Girl’s Gang Rape Gets No Attention in National Media

Social Commentary

“Is Delhi Only India?” 17-Year-Old Tripura Girl’s Gang Rape Gets No Attention in National Media

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

You’d think a spate of rapes would create headlines in national media and stir an outrage on social media. But not if you are a small state from the northeast like Tripura.

The state has witnessed three horrific sex crimes in the past few days. It started with the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl after which stories of abuse of a 30-year-old housewife and a seven-year-old have come to light. Students in Tripura have started online protests demanding justice for the survivors but the national media has been too busy with the coverage of Rafale fighter jets and the politics in Rajasthan to pay heed.

The 17-year-old had reportedly gone to meet a boy from Khashiamangal village of Khowai district and was raped on her way back home by a group of five men who offered her a lift. The incident reportedly took place on July 21. In the second case, a housewife from Karailongpara village filed a police complaint, where she alleged that a 21-year-old youth from the area had molested and raped her. While investigating the case, the police also found that a child in the same house had also been a victim of sexual abuse by the same offender, The Indian Express reported.

The police have been successful in making arrests in both the cases. Nine people have been arrested for the gang rape of the teenage girl in Khowai so far. However, one of the main accused is still absconding.

In Tripura, students have started online protests demanding justice for the women. It all started after the posts of Asmira Debbarma, a political science at Tripura University, demanding capital punishment for the rapists started getting widely shared.

“We demand the state government to deliver justice to the girl. Not only jail, we demand the death sentence. This case can’t run for 5-10 years. We want fast disposal of the case,” she said.

However, even as leaders join students to raise their voices against the crimes, the national media is largely oblivious to what is unfolding in Tripura.

In a powerful message posted on Twitter, Pradyot Barman, chairman of The Indigenous progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA), asks, “Is India only Delhi?”

Former journalist and stand-up comic Abhijeet Mishra points out that it takes no time for memes on Tripura CM Biplab Deb Kumar to go viral, but a horrific rape from the state somehow does not get the coverage it deserves.

There’s a desperate call for attention on Twitter and maybe #JusticeforTripuraGirl might even trend, but that does not change the fact that the northeast and its people remain just an afterthought for most of India and the mainstream media.